The Judicial Council won’t be asking for any changes in the next biennial budget after all.
The council, a 21-member body that makes recommendations relating to court practices, procedures and administration of state courts, had been planning to ask lawmakers to align the agency with the Director of State Courts Office, and approved the plan at its June meeting. At the time, Director of State Courts Denis Moran had said his office would make a similar request.
But the plan unraveled just before budget requests were due to the state Department of Administration.
The plan was approved earlier this month by a committee that advises that office and the Wisconsin Supreme Court, said the council’s staff attorney, April Southwick.
However, the justices have not yet voted on the plan. The courts’ budget is usually submitted in October.
Based on advice from Moran, Southwick drafted the budget request without the plan the council had approved. Instead, it asks for no increase in its budget except for standard adjustments.
The council approved the budget request at Friday’s meeting.
“Hopefully this won’t put a bullseye on the council,” said Southwick.
In its last biennial budget request, the council had asked for a $96,900 increase in its budget.
Subsequently, Gov. Scott Walker proposed eliminating the council, which has been an independent agency since 1951 when it was created by the state Legislature.
The Joint Finance Committee, a powerful panel of lawmakers, later rejected the plan and made the council completely financed by the Supreme Court’s revenue from the Director of State Courts and State Law Library programs.
At Friday’s meeting, Justice Annette Ziegler told other council members that while the court has made a formal request, they should not hold their breath.
“It isn’t something that was viewed with great favor,” she said. “We’re holding out a lot of hope on that one.” Follow @erikastrebel